Diagnostic assessment

Many people on the autism spectrum have gone through their lives searching for ways to understand themselves. Without a diagnosis, they often have not had a clear understanding of why they are having the difficulties they are. Others around them are also frustrated and may ask themselves what is happening to me, the person I love, or the person I work with? Why is it so hard to have relationships with one other?

Because people don't know what they're dealing with, they have often had painful and confusing social, learning and work-related experiences and have gotten message that they are not good enough the way they are. It has often felt like others in their lives react like it's their fault or they intend to be this way. Teachers, therapists, friends, family, and employers have been equally challenged by not knowing what's going on, and are often themselves searching for answers.

In a diagnostic assessment we use a variety of tools to try and find some answers to your difficulties. This begins with a conversation between you and I, because I want to know your perspective on these difficulties and I want to know how you understand yourself. It's also going to involve what the world of psychology calls "standardized measures", which are tools aimed at understanding your specific developmental difficulties in the areas of social, communication, sensory responsivity, and areas of interest. I also want to know what those that are in relationship with you have observed about these domains. Then we are going to put all of this information together to create a picture of your specific neurological strengths and challenges, and determine if you have an autism spectrum disorder.

How it can help

After we gain an understanding of your neurological strengths and differences we can start to create strategies to make your environment and relationships work better for everyone. People tend to like themselves better when they understand what's happening, so you may experience a better sense of self and self-worth. You will also be in a position to develop strategies for sensory accommodations, and ways to organize yourself and manage your time.

Personal relationships usually improve once you both know what you're dealing with. You will be able to build on a shared understanding of what's happening in your marriage, family and friendships, and develop individualized work and school accommodations to make interactions in those environments more successful for everyone.

How the process works

  1. Contact me to schedule a brief phone conversation where we can talk about your situation, answer any questions you may have, and schedule an appointment if you decide to go forward.
  2. Download and fill out these forms to bring to our first meeting
  3. Plan how to get to my office in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle. The address and directions are on my contact page
  4. Our first meeting. involves a clinical interview where the primary goal is to gain information about your developmental history and current functioning in the areas of social relationships, communication, and interests. Please bring your completed forms from step 2 above. I may ask to interview your parent or partner to gain further information on your developmental history and current functioning.
  5. The following two sessions involve diagnostic tests some of which involve you and I interacting and some will be paper and pencil format. The goal of all assessment measures is to gain more information about the unique ways your brain processes information, your interests, social experiences, communication style, sensory responses and general living out in the world.
  6. The fourth session is a feedback session. by now I have brought together the information you told me, the information your parent/partner provided, the testing results and have tried to create a picture of what is happening for you. During this session I present all of that information to you and take your feedback, which I will integrate into the final report and diagnosis.
  7. The fifth and final session addresses the question: "where do I go from here?" This is a 90-minute session scheduled for two weeks after the feedback session. You are welcome to invite any family members, partners or friends to this meeting. During the session we will focus on further understanding the person you are and “your story.” We will acknowledge your specific neurological strengths and differences and make an action plan that outlines steps you and others can take in the future toward your particular life goals. The overarching goal of this process is to use the information we gain together to improve the quality of your life and relationships, so you more fully engage in life—valuing the person you are. At the end you will have all of this information written up in a visual format, in the form of a report and this includes information and recommendations about where to go from here.